Highlights and lowlights
A look back at the highlights, exchanges and blunders on the campaign trail compiled by Claire Trevett.
Insult of the week
Judith Collins was described as National’s ‘ hail Mary pass’ when she took over the leadership but took it literally, stopping in at a church for a prayer with all the media filming before casting her vote at St Thomas in Kohimarama. The news prompted New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to turn to the scriptures. Without referring to the incident, he simply tweeted Matthew 6: 5- 6. ‘ And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others . . . But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.’
Random encounters I
If Winston Peters had hoped for salvation from a ‘ cup of tea’ nod from Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, he was to be disappointed. The pair have not run into each other on the campaign and Ardern has shown no willingness to help her coalition partner out. But today both leaders are due to visit the Ōtara markets. Peters is clearly hoping for an early bird advantage — his schedule has him arriving early and leaving at the time Ardern is due to arrive.
The art of the comp- insult
When Simon Bridges was National Party leader, Judith Collins took to expressing her ‘ support’ for him with the back- handed compliment of ‘ it’s a tough job and I think he’s doing the best he can.’ On the AM Show yesterday after a bad week on the campaign trail for Collins, a poker- faced Bridges returned the favour, saying Collins was ‘ doing her best.’
Random encounters II
Judith Collins was pilloried after campaign staff set party supporters up as apparent ‘ random voters’ for a walkabout down Ponsonby Road. Since time began, political campaigns have tried to make their candidates look popular by urging supporters to turn up to campaign events, to call talkback, and vote in online polls for their preferred candidate. The pressure is especially high when your opponent has throngs around them wherever they go. Sure enough, the same day an email emerged in which Labour Party members were encouraged to pop into Lyttelton for Jacinda Ardern’s walkabout. ‘ So come along and go shopping, grab a coffee and something to eat or just be there to cheer her on as she walks the length of London Street.’ This time round, it is even more important to have a contingency plan given even normally busy streets in Auckland have been fairly empty during the Covid- 19 restrictions. Nonetheless, next time Collins’ team might want to make it a tad less obvious by moving away from the pre- positioned ‘ ordinary voter.’